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Cereal-based whole crop silages: a potential conservation mechanism for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes - BD1448

Description
Arable cultivation, particularly spring-sown cereals, can provide nesting sites, summer food and winter food for a wide range of farmland birds. Specialisation of farming enterprises has resulted in the disappearance of much arable cultivation from many pastoral areas of western Britain, and this has been a major cause of farmland bird declines. Maize now accounts for most arable cultivation in lowland livestock regions but may be of limited value as a nesting or foraging habitat for farmland birds. Cereal-based whole crop silage(CBWCS)is an increasingly popular option for livestock farmers wishing to increase carbohydrate levels in animal feeds. The benefits to farmland birds of existing CBWCS are probably modest, because they usually involve high-input winter wheat which provides limited nesting opportunities, and undersown stubbles which are much less attractive to seed-eating birds than stubbles on bare ground. If farmers could be encouraged to grow spring-sown (low input) whole crop silages on the same field for two years in succession, there should be substantial benefits for farmland birds. The inclusion of CBWCS (autumn or spring sown) in DEFRA`s Entry Level Agri-Environment Scheme Pilot further strengthens the case for a better understanding of the agronomy and biodiversity benefits of such crops. We propose to assess the agronomic and economic feasibility of two CBWCS systems (winter wheat and spring barley) within typical intensive livestock systems. Trial plots will be established to assess yields, to identify agronomic problems and to assess biodiversity benefits. The study will provide an assessment of the costs, benefits and practicalities of CBWCS as a potential agri-environment measure aimed at livestock farmers.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Cereal-based whole crop silages: a potential conservation mechanism for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes.   (302k)
• Final Report - Annex : Cereal-based whole crop silages: a potential conservation mechanism for farmland birds in pastoral landscapes.   (110k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2007

Cost: £319,345
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Harper Adams Agricultural College, University - Reading, Royal Society for Protection of Birds
Keywords
Biodiversity              
Environmental Protection              
Habitat conservation              
Nature conservation              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship